City Girls’ hustle is strong. The hip-hop duo — composed of JT and Yung Miami — have been friends since middle school and were forced to grow up fast due to their circumstances. But even back then, they realized the future is female.
Sadly, City Girls’ story is not atypical. Both grew up in tough Miami neighborhoods — Opa-Locka and Liberty City — where poverty was a fact of life. For JT, whose mother was a drug addict, that meant living with relatives and conjuring ways to make money — like credit card theft. The two bonded, sharing an aversion to boys who made their lives even more difficult, and the song “Fuck Dat N—a” was birthed in 2017. Between their brazen attitudes and brash delivery, they arrived on the scene with a bang, giving agency to ascendant female rappers who would chart in their wake.
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But just as the group’s rap career was poised to scale heights usually only seen by male hip-hop stars, JT’s street-savvy ways caught up with her, and she was arrested for aggravated identify theft. With a 24-month prison sentence looming, she surrendered in July 2018, and Yung Miami was tasked with shouldering the duo’s budding buzz — which included an uncredited feature on Drake’s multiplatinum hit “In My Feelings.”
“At first it was very hard,” Miami says. “We came into it together, and as soon as we did ‘In My Feelings,’ JT had to turn herself in. It was just downhill.”
For 15 months, Yung Miami kept the City Girls name alive — pushing the triple-platinum “Girl Code” single “Act Up,” collaborating with Saweetie for “Come On” and hopping on Moneybagg Yo’s “4 Da Moment,” to name a few of her appearances. “I did all types of features, making sure the music was getting played and we was everywhere,” Miami says. “I had to put my big-girl pants on and just do what was best for the group.”
As for JT, doing time proved a lesson in perspective. She wound up “having a ball in that bitch,” she says with a laugh about the adjustment to prison life, and was released in October 2019 to complete the remainder of her sentence at a halfway house.
JT’s release and the social media moment it created helped the duo gain popularity, and City Girls immediately got to work on sophomore album “City on Lock,” which dropped in June 2020 after leaking online. But it was another previously unreleased track, “Twerkulator,” that sent their career into overdrive. Credit a massive TikTok wave and the coronavirus lockdown for the virality of “Twerkulator,” which was officially released as a single in May 2021.
On the advice of Quality Control Music CEO Pierre “P” Thomas, City Girls recruited Missy Elliott to direct the video for “Twerkulator,” a collaboration that seemed preordained. Featuring stellar choreography that nodded to Elliott’s own masterpiece visuals, like for “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It,” served as a reminder of the shift hip-hop has seen over the past several years — where women are finally seated at the head of the table.
“I feel like it’s a new generation,” says Yung Miami, who debuted a solo single, “Rap Freaks,” earlier this year. “I love to see all females winning — women is powerful. So just to be a part of it, to be rapping and for our voices to be heard, I’m just thankful. I can’t even describe the feeling ’cause I never thought I’d be here.”
JT, who appears on Summer Walker’s just-released “Ex for a Reason,” adds: “This is just a great time. I’m proud of all the women. I just want to work harder and make it a very City Girls year in 2022, maybe get nominated for a Grammy. I feel like this year was a little rusty because everybody was trying to figure out COVID-19, vaccines and all type of shit. But I feel like next year it’ll be a smoother run. Fingers crossed.”
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